Most of us are looking forward to retirement. When that day finally arrives, what’s next?
Do you know someone who has recently retired and is struggling with lack of purpose?
How do you make the rest of your life meaningful and impactful?
Bestselling author Ken Blanchard of The One Minute Manager and psychologist Dr. Morton Shaevitz don’t believe in chance meetings. When they met on a flight from San Diego to New York, the two discussed the issues of aging. Instead of the “best years are behind us” approach they decided to write a book about making life in your later years more meaningful than ever.
“Retiring suggests shutting down. Refiring means engaging in life.” -@DrMHShaevitz
Many people think “retirement” is the happy destination. Your new bookRefire! Don’t Retire gives different advice. What does it mean to refire?
Refiring is a process where the primary focus is not on career advancement, financial gain, or specific types of achievements, but rather, healthy living, warm and significant relationships, continued learning and cognitive growth, vitality and meaningful involvement, and the development of a personal sense of spirituality. Retiring suggests shutting down. Refiring means engaging in life.
You start with “refiring emotionally.” Why is that first?
There isn’t any particular reason this was first, but being socially isolated has been shown to contribute to emotional and physical decline. So that makes it a good jumping off point. Identifying those people who are meaningful in our lives, building stronger connections, reaching out to new people, opening up, and getting close can also sometimes help to establish a good foundational support system for your refiring process.
Fact: Being socially isolated contributes to emotional and physical decline.
Many of us start a new year with a list of resolutions and aspirations. Those goals can quickly disappear as we replace goals with excuses. A regular diet of motivation helps me redouble my efforts, so I regularly look for inspiring people, books, speeches, and songs.
That’s why I was pleased to have the opportunity to speak with Patricia Walsh. Talk about overcoming obstacles, pursuing dreams, and not letting an excuse derail goals.
I’ve interviewed another female Ironman, Chrissie Wellington. Reading her book was the closest I’ve come to understanding what it takes to compete. It’s a grueling challenge. And you’re blind and you did it. What motivated you to shatter expectations?
I stumbled into shattering: I think my friends and family assume that I set out with a determination to turn the world on its ear from the get go. Truly the spirit of the initial events was more of a, “What could possibly go wrong?” to which the response was. “Everything could go wrong,” to which I then responded, “Even if everything does go wrong, this won’t kill me.”
My initial motivation was to reclaim my quality of life. When this all began, I had a smoking habit, was the life of the party, and as a result was overweight and feeling lost in my own skin. As my dad started struggling with his own health, I realized that my habits and patterns not only emulated his, in many ways they were worse than his. I started running as an attempt to reclaim my health. The result after months of trial and error and continuous improvement was not only a betterment of my physical health, but it had become a lifeline for what had been a shattered sense of self.
In completing my first marathon, I proved to myself that I was not and never have been damaged goods. My sense of ability was through the roof. When proposed the opportunity to take on ever increasing challenges I jumped at the chances. After years of marathoning, a friend dared me to do an ironman. When I took on ironman it was out of a curiosity and a wonder for my own capabilities. I was in way over my head. I had never swum or biked. The amount of help and coaching I needed just to finish was daunting.
It was after completing my first ironman, Lake Placid 2010, when I became the first blind female to have completed an ironman with a female guide, that I saw the opportunity to reclaim expectations.
There is a thriving prejudice of reduced expectations of persons with disability. I feel it every day. People are surprised when I am able to order for myself at a restaurant. People approach my friends and congratulate them on their generosity for taking the blind kid out for an adventure. People do not see me as an accomplished adult. The challenge for me every day is to fight the impulse to become a defensive person. When faced with these reduced expectations, my want is to rattle off my resume. My want is even to make that person feel lower, but what good would come of that? I know better. If I were to ever really have that honest reaction, everyone would walk away feeling awful. I acknowledge my role has to be that of a gentle educator. After my initial success in ironman, I had the opportunity to race with a hero of mine. It was then that I saw the gleam of light that I could be a competitive athlete by any standard.
I believed that if I put in the time and effort to be among the top finishers for my age group, then I could offer up an example of appropriate expectations of the blind. That is to say blind and disabled people are not lesser than, they are equal to, and in some cases even greater than those without disability. Truly it isn’t about the comparison, it is about the assumption. The efforts of persons with disability should be taken on their own merit, absent of the expectation of diminished value.
“Excuses are a mask for fear and self-doubt.” -Patricia Walsh
Finishing my second ironman in 11:40 was groundbreaking for me. In 10 months I had reduced my own time by three hours. I had set an example of an athlete with disability who two years into the sport could be ranked among the top 10 finishers for her age group. I was then recruited to compete at a different distance for the US National team. My secret hope is to come back to ironman after Paralympics, as I left wanting more. I know I could be among the top finishers in following my own fuel-fire-blaze hierarchy with the emotionally intrinsic goal of continuing to chip away at the reduced expectations.
You have a new formula for setting goals. It’s not the SMART model, it’s the CLIMB model. Would you share that with us?
It all begins with a well-defined vision and a set of clearly defined goals. The CLIMB system we developed on our journey to becoming top performers will provide you with a structured approach to goal setting that is both disciplined and focused.
C – Concise: Your goals must be specific, quantifiable, actionable, and support your vision.
L – Levelheaded: Your vision and goals must be realistic and attainable based on your current skills and level of professional development.
I – Integrated: Your goals must be related, relevant, and integrated with your vision.
M – Measurable: You must hold yourself accountable by using objective metrics to track your progress against goals. You must “measure the mountain.”
B – Big: Being realistic doesn’t mean thinking small. Be bold and ambitious in projecting your future. Think Big!
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” -Ben Franklin
Let’s talk about preparation. Obviously preparing for a climb elevates it to a life or death activity. How have you used what you learned in climbing about preparation in other areas like sales or goals?
No BIG mountain is scaled in a single climb. No quota or BIG business objective is achieved in a single day. You must step away from the business and create a detailed roadmap that delineates every step of your journey and includes metrics to measure success along the way.
If we don’t have a plan in writing, we have a tendency to react to disruptive things, for example like constant email. We need to make sure we focus on the important activities that will lead us to success, reviewing our plan on a daily basis.
The Power of Commitment
Commitment. Many talk a good game. You may believe them, but then they quit before they even get going. How do you help people truly commit?
Achieving peak performance, both personally and professionally, can dramatically change our lives. So once we have a vision we must commit to achieving it. Peak performers say, “I will” not “I will try.” For example, if you want to climb a mountain or run a marathon, sign up, pay the fee and then work backwards. In climbing, I had to visualize myself on the summit of Everest – that was my vision in advance for years. In business, I viewed myself as a vice president in the Fortune 500 world for years before I achieved that title. Big visions can take years to achieve, but say, “I will do it” and never give up.
After the interview, I decided to follow up with him to ask when leaders need to abandon or re-evaluate a strategic plan. I have seen executives stick with a plan and others modify or abandon a plan. Most leaders don’t want to open up the plan over and over because it shows indecisiveness, a lack of confidence or it creates confusion. That said, there are times when a major review or rewrite is important. So, I asked Rich:
When is revisiting the plan the right thing to do?
The ability to modify strategy at the right time can literally save or destroy a business. Here is a checklist of five moments when it is critical to evaluate your strategy.
1. Goals are achieved or changed.
Goals are what you are trying to achieve, and strategy is how you’re going to get there.
It makes sense then, if the destination changes, so too should the path to get there. As you accomplish goals and establish new ones, changes in resource allocation are often required to keep moving forward. In some cases, goals are modified during the course of the year to reflect changes in the market, competitive landscape, or customer profile. It’s important to reflect on the strategy as these changes occur to see if it also needs to be modified.
“Goals are what you are trying to achieve, and strategy is how you’re going to get there.” -Rich Horwath
The endgame of business strategy is to serve customers’ needs in a more profitable way than the competition. But, as the makers of the Polaroid camera, hard- cover encyclopedias, and pagers will tell you, customer needs evolve.
The leaders skilled in strategic thinking are able to continually generate new insights into the emerging needs of key customers. They can then shape their group’s current or future offerings to best meet those evolving needs.
“The endgame of business strategy is to serve customers’ needs in a more profitable way than the competition.” -Rich Horwath
Innovation can be described as creating new value for customers.
The new value may be technological in nature, but it can also be generated in many other ways including service, experience, marketing, process, etc. It may be earth shattering, or it may be minor in nature. The key is to keep a tight pulse on your market, customers, and competitors to understand when innovation, or new value, is being delivered and by whom. Once that’s confirmed, assess your goals and strategies to determine if they need to be adjusted based on this new level of value in the market.